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Montana's marijuana industry expects to see sales surge this summer

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David Beasely | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) – Montana's marijuana industry expects to see a surge in sales this summer as tourism season is in full swing.

Montana, the 12th state in the U.S. to legalize adult recreational sales, has had $123 million in recreational and medical marijuana sales so far this year, the Cannabis Business Times reported

Pepper Petersen, president and CEO of the Montana Cannabis Guild, a trade association, told The Center Square that summer means increased marijuana sales from tourism.

"Our population increases by about 12 million people in the summer months," Petersen said. "The tourist season is when we will have the most sales. When we designed the taxation system, it was quite frankly, to tax those people who are from out of state as much as anyone."

It has been estimated that legalized marijuana will produce $40 million annually in tax revenue from $286 million in annual sales, he said.

Montana has no statewide general sales tax, Petersen noted.

"Our property taxpayers carry the burden of paying for the infrastructure that the tourists use," he said.

Marijuana is subject to a sales tax of 4 percent for medical and 20 percent for recreational sales, according to the Montana Department of Revenue.

"We thought this would be a good opportunity to have tourists, for once, to carry their weight," Petersen said. "We don't believe in sales taxes in Montana, but we are willing to tax the marijuana smokers."

In addition to state tax revenues from marijuana, local governments may also impose their own sales taxes on the products of up to 3 percent, according to the state.

"Thirteen counties out of the 28 counties that have legal recreational marijuana just in this past election passed taxation," Petersen said. "There were four counties previous to this that passed taxation back in November."

In Montana, taxes are only collected at the point of sale, he noted.

"There's no taxes on wholesale, no taxes on production," Petersen said. "If you look at California's system, it's multi-tiered. They tax around 45 percent which causes people to go to the black market."